Thursday, September 25, 2014

Con Job: Campaign Money & Phantom Jobs
at the Texas Enterprise Fund

TPJ has documented the questionable job creation reports at the Texas Enterprise Fund since 2010. TPJ has also tracked campaign contributions from TEC grant recipients to Governor Perry and other state officials. Today's auditor report on TEF warrants revisiting some of our research.

Lobby Watch: Texas Big Three Bag Enterprise-Fund Millions.

Con Job: Report Finds Most Texas Enterprise Fund Grantees Failed to Deliver in 2010.

Rick Perry's Piggybank.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Austin's Oldest Profession
Tracks 2013 Texas Lobby Spending


During 2013, 2,932 clients paid 1,704 lobbyists up to $349 million to influence Texas government decisions, according to TPJ’s biennial analysis of Texas lobby spending. 2013 lobby spending nosed out pre-recession lobby expenditures for the first time. 

Led by the now-bankrupt Energy Future Holdings Corp., Energy and Natural Resources clients spent more on the lobby than any other industry.

To identify Texas' biggest lobbyists and lobby clients, you need:

"AUSTIN'S OLDEST PROFESSION"

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Will TPJ again be the victim of political retaliation?

Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News looks into past examples of retaliation from the politicians called out by TPJ.

Dallas Morning News:
Group whose complaint led to Rick Perry indictment no stranger to political retaliation

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Get the facts--not the spin--on Perry indictment

The Perry indictments have triggered a flood of misinformation about the case. TPJ's fact sheet rebuts major spin-machine fallacies and includes links to numerous sources that document the facts.

Read TPJ's spin-busting fact sheet.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Perry vs. TPJ

Rick Perry is rapidly expanding his legal and spin team in his fight against his criminal indictment. Below is an update and a link to an objective article by the New York Times documenting the long battle to defang the Travis County Public Integrity watch dog.

Perry keeps expanding his spin team.
He announced yesterday he is bringing on Republican consultant Steve Schmidt.

From today's New York Times.
Texas v. Perry Emerges From Years of Struggle Over Anti-corruption Unit

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

TPJ profiled by Texas press

Below are links to several of the recent stories highlighting the work of TPJ.

Texas Tribune Meet the group that sparked the Perry indictment
Austin-American Statesman Group that brought Perry complaint leans to left
Houston Chronicle Group has history of making trouble for Texas politicians

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Rick Perry Indicted by Grand Jury

Texas Tribune: Five things to know about the Perry indictment
Dallas Morning News: Governor Perry indicted for abuse of power
Houston Chronicle: Perry indicted on two felony charges
MSNBC: Rick Perry Indicted for Abuse of Power

Read TPJ's June 14, 2013 complaint.
Read TPJ's June 14 media release.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Top Cop or Criminal?
TPJ Files Complaint Against Ken Paxton

TPJ has filed a criminal complaint with the Travis County District Attorney against State Senator and Attorney General candidate Ken Paxton. The complaint, filed on July 18, seeks a formal investigation into allegations that Paxton committed one or more felonies when, over several years, he failed to register as an investment adviser representative of Mowery Capital Management as the state securities law requires. Paxton previously admitted to state regulators that he solicited clients and was compensated for his services when he was not a registered agent. Paxton also admitted hiding the income he received on his state personal financial disclosures.

TPJ's complaint letter can be found here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ethics Commission Fines Empower Texans' Sullivan

The Texas Ethics Commission ordered Michael Quinn Sullivan, leader of the conservative advocacy group Empower Texans, to pay a $10,000 fine on Monday for failing to register as a lobbyist in 2010 and 2011.

The order is the culmination of a two-year investigation by the Ethics Commission into Sullivan’s political activity, stemming from a 2012 complaint filed by Republican state Reps. Jim Keffer of Eastland and Vicki Truitt of Keller alleging that Sullivan acted as an unregistered lobbyist and that Empower Texans failed to file as a PAC. The second complaint is being treated separately by the Ethics Commission.

“The evidence revealed that part of Mr. Sullivan’s regular employment involved making direct contact with members of the Texas Legislature and their staffs to influence the outcome of bills, nominations and other matters that were subject to legislative action,” Ethics Commission Chairman Jim Clancy wrote in the unanimous order. “Accordingly, Texas law required him to register as a lobbyist.”

Joe Nixon, Sullivan's attorney, said by phone that they were "pleased the Ethics Commission finally, after almost 30 months of inactivity, issued a final ruling."

"It is our intent to appeal the ruling to the district court where it will be heard 'de novo' meaning new from the beginning," he added. "The commission knows that its ruling will have no permanent effect, and we are excited to be in a court of law where the rules of evidence and procedure will predominate."

Sullivan had been fighting the investigation, arguing that his activities with Empower Texans should be viewed as journalism and thus exempt from the lobbyist registration requirements. The commission determined that Sullivan's defense was "baseless," pointing to dozens of communications between Sullivan and lawmakers related to the outcome of pending legislation.

"Advocacy is indisputably legal, but being paid to directly advocate without registering as a lobbyist is not,” Clancy wrote. “The communications reviewed by the commission advocate passage or defeat of specific legislative action on behalf of a special interest group. Regardless of political orientation or message, no paid advocate who engages in direct communications with Texas legislators is above the disclosure laws of the state of Texas.”

The commission also accused Sullivan of having "destroyed or lost thousands of emails sent to members of the Legislature during 2010 and 2011, despite having received written requests for such information in 2012." Sullivan has denied destroying any documents.

Sullivan has decried the Ethics Commission investigation as a "witch hunt" instigated by "cronies" of House Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican who Sullivan has long criticized as insufficiently conservative to lead the chamber.

“The commission hasn’t yet decided exactly what it is I do that’s illegal, but they have decided I must be found guilty of something,” Sullivan wrote in an email to supporters last month. “They want to define me as an ‘illegal lobbyist’ because I exercise my First Amendment rights as the head of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility: I write about the goings on in the legislature and publicize a rating of how fiscally responsible (or irresponsible!) legislators are with your money.”
The commission is made up of eight members, four appointed by the governor, two appointed by the lieutenant governor and two appointed by the speaker of the House.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/07/21/ethics-commission-slaps-conservative-activist-1000/.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

TPJ Urges Top Court to Reinstate DeLay Conviction

TPJ filed an amicus brief with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals today urging them to reinstate Tom DeLay's convictions for criminal conspiracy and money laundering. The top court will review the Third Court of Appeals ruling that overturned DeLay's convictions. DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison and five years probation for the crimes. The high court hearing is scheduled for June 18.
Read the full TPJ press release.
Read the TPJ Amicus Brief.